Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 review

2011 started out great, and stayed good for about the first half of the year, after that it really started to suck. 

Korea was really good, I came back to the US at the end of April thinking I would be here for 1-2 months.  Now it's the end of December and I'm still here.  

Traveling was good this year.  I think of my time in Korea as an extended trip.  I took a three week trip to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia in January.  In May I finally went back to San Diego to visit after being gone for over 6 years. 

I didn't complete any interesting pieces in 2011.  I wasn't really able to focus on making new work because I was too stressed and thinking too much about going back to Korea.  I made lockpicks, aluminum training blades, and some small pieces.  I am working on a belt made like the scale neck piece I finished in 2009.  I'll post photos of that once it's done. 

I'm glad 2011 is over.

Monday, December 12, 2011

aluminum training blades

In October I started making aluminum training knives and swords for people I practice martial arts with.  The martial art we do is called kali, and that often involves training with knives and swords.  The weapons are 1/4" thick aluminum, I wrap the handles with paracord.  I have anodized some of the knives.  I can't fit anything larger in my anodizing tank, but I am thinking about setting up an anodizing tank using those long tubs used for wallpapering. 

I still need to find a good place to photograph them.  They are too big for my light tent.  

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Setting up my anodizing equipment again

Yesterday I finally set up my anodizing equipment.  My friend sent me this article about using pickle (sodium bisulfate) for the anodizing bath:

I was already planning to set up my anodizing stuff when I got the article and thought I would try it so I wouldn't need to find sulfuric acid.  But I didn't have enough pickle left so I just went ahead and got battery acid at an auto parts store instead.

The author of the article talks about how much safer pickle is than sulfuric acid.  Personally I have always hated pickle since I first started doing jewelry work in my apartment while I was at GIA.  I didn't have a crock pot to heat the pickle, so I put some in the microwave to heat it.  I guess some got in the microwave, and later when I heated some food it had sort of a pickle taste to it and it made me kind of sick. 

Maybe I'll try pickle next time I have to set up anodizing equipment.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September update

Lately I've been working more on some tools. I made some more carving knives, and some handles that I have not put blades in yet.

I had pics of this one in my last post:

Here is a random process photo, below. I don't know much about wood working so I just put the wood on the lathe and treat it like metal. It's working ok so far.  

The handle below is ebony and ivory. I still need to properly photograph most of these handles. After I get all my handles and blades made then I will decide which blades to put in which handles. 

I also ordered some more wood and started on some saw handles. The top one is leopard wood, the bottom one is ebony.

I made two graver handles so far. They are finished except for the ferrule, which I will make out of silver.

It's still unfinished in this pic. The little thing sticking out on the left side is just something I left on it to help hold it in the lathe.

Cocobolo on the left, ebony on the right.

I got a commission recently to make a belt like the scale neckpiece I finished in 2009.  It's going to be much thinner and shorter than the neckpiece so it won't take nearly as long. 

To keep the cost down she gave me some silver things to melt down to use for the belt.  She gave me these two sterling goblets, but I think rather than meting them down, I will keep at least the big one and use some of my own silver instead. 

She also gave me six of these hand engraved napkin holders. 

I'm happy to get the work, but not all that happy about doing more scales. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

hidden wood stash

I was cleaning my room tonight and found a small box full of wood, all cut and milled and ready to be made into lockpicks. I thought I was missing some wood, but really I thought it was only a few pieces, not 19 cut pieces and one piece that has not been prepared. Among the wood was 4 pieces of boxwood, a thick piece of ebony, one piece of dalmatian ebony, tulipwood, snakewood, and one piece of sandal wood.

Also found a lot of small tools, carving wax, and several other non-tool things I had been wondering about.

Monday, August 1, 2011

new tools and new wood

Recently I have been making some small wood carving knives. The blades are made of either drill rod or old burs.

In the photo below, the top knife I made over a year ago. The blade is really good, I think it's probably my favorite, but the handle is not that nice looking. I am going to make a new handle for it later. The one below it is snakewood, I made it recently. The ferrules on both of them are sterling. The handle at the bottom with no blade is ebony with ivory at both ends. I really like that one, I just haven't decided which blade to put in it yet.

I would like to make a handle completely out of ivory, but it's a little expensive for me right now, and I might get in trouble with customs if they find me trying to bring it into Korea.

I received some new wood today. Some I got to make lockpicks, and some I got to make more tool handles. I got more ebony, snakewood, and boxwood. I am not sure what I was thinking when I ordered the boxwood in that size. I could have ordered cheaper thinner pieces, since I'm going to end up cutting most of it away.

I also got some lignum vitae (two light brown pieces on the right), which I used once before in a hammer handle, and two woods I have never used before, pyinma and buckeye burl. The longest piece is the pyinma, I sanded and oiled the right half of it so I could get an idea how it will look when it's finished. The buckeye burl is the black and white piece below it.

I ordered it all from Griffin Exotic Wood. I have ordered from them several times now and have always been happy with them. I ordered from another company a couple times that wasn't very good. They didn't have their wood graded. They just had "ebony", they don't say anything about the quality, if it's black, or brownish or has brown streaks in it. I don't want ebony with brown in it. If I wanted brown I would buy some other kind of wood. Griffin has most of their wood priced and sold according to a grade they give it. Since I am just buying these little pieces I usually buy the best quality. There may be other companies better than them but I don't order wood very often so I just stick with one I like.

Below are all the picks I am working on right now. The types of wood are, from the top down:
micarta + wood handle scales x2 (I can't remember what type at the moment)
cocobolo x2

The two picks at the top I probably won't finish. They both require a lot of detailed carving, and I don't even like them that much, so I think there's better things I could spend my time on right now.

In the low quality photo below are a pair of picks I am keeping for myself. I just finished the ebony one last night. It was almost finished before I went to Korea last year, but I never epoxied it together for some reason. The white pick is holly, I need to find something to seal the wood so it doesn't get dirt worked into the grain of the wood from being handled.

I cannot remember if I mentioned it before, but some Chinese or Korean company is making plastic copies of this design.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

my Etsy shop is open again

Today I got my work back from the show Art by Attrition, so I decided to re open my Etsy shop and put some of those pieces back in. The shop had been closed since I went to Korea last year. I have two pieces in it now. I'll put a couple more in after I take some more photos. I will probably be closing the shop again once I go back to Korea.

a summer update

I'm still in the US. I had a couple false starts, thinking I had a job but they ended up not working out. So I am still looking for a job in Korea.

In the meantime I have gotten back in the studio. Mostly I am working on lockpicks. I am also studying Korean quite a bit lately, usually a couple hours a day. And I try to exercise every day, but the past week I have not been doing much.

Despite all my talk about making a vessel for the Cheongju Craft Competition I never did it. I just didn't come up with any design I felt was worth using a $900 piece of silver on (a 12" x 12" 22 ga sheet of sterling from Rio Grande would cost $903.67 today). I don't get nervous about using expensive materials anymore (except for fragile stones), but I just didn't spend enough time working on designs and making prototypes and felt it would be a waste of the material.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

suprise from Rio Grande

I got this framed certificate from Rio Grande in the mail today. I wasn't expecting anything more about the 2011 Saul Bell Award since I was only a finalist.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

trip to California

I visited San Diego May 18 - 25. I lived in Oceanside (45 min. north of San Diego) from Nov. 1999 - Dec. 2004. I went out there to go to GIA, then worked there a few more years. I left to go to grad school at the U of Iowa, with the intention of returning to the San Diego area as soon as I finished. I finished grad school at the end of 2006, and have been putting off returning to California since then. Currently I am putting it off till I spend at least one more year in Korea, but who knows what will happen after Korea.

Anyway, I haven't been back since I left in 2004, and I have missed it and I really wanted to visit when I got back from Korea. Actually visiting California was one of the only things I was looking forward to doing this summer.

I didn't do much during my trip. I drove around a lot. I like to drive and I like driving in Southern California much more than in the Chicago area. Much nicer scenery. I spent about $200 on gas during the trip. I went to places I used to go to, ate at restaurants I used to eat at, and met a couple friends.

View from outside my old apartment building:


One of the best things I did during my trip was run one of my old running routes near my apt in Oceanside. I am not in as good of shape as I was when I lived in CA, so all I could do was run a three mile route that used to be the minimum I would run. Southern California is a great place to run because of the weather, and my neighborhood was especially good. On the west side of I-5 the area was all flat, if I wanted to run hills, there were some really steep ones on the east side if I-5. I wish I could start running again, but I have never enjoyed it much anywhere but in California. This video is the 3 mile route I used to run a lot:

South Carlsbad:

Approaching Laguna Beach, I think:

Laguna Beach:

Someplace that brings back memories in Laguna Beach:

While I was going to meet a friend I happened to find the Palos Verdes Art Center. I was in an exhibition there called Wearable Expressions in 2008:

The Getty Center in LA:

View of LA from the Getty Center:

Furaibo used to be one of my favorite restaurants. I was happy to go there again. It's on Sawtelle Blvd, a Japanese area in LA.

This is the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic Blvds. I always liked this neon aquatic scene.

Random San Diego picture (Mission Beach):

I went to the San Diego zoo. I had never been there before, I couldn't believe it cost $40 to get in!
Below: Cavendish's dik dik

I don't know what happened but three ducks, two males and one female flipped out on some female duck and attacked her. Eventually she was able to fly away.

Secretary bird

Los Angeles

So my trip was really good. Not much had changed since I had left. After my trip I was wanting to move back there even more. So I'll try to do that someday after I settle down a bit. I have trouble staying in the same place very long, even California. I don't know what I'll do after at least one more year in Korea. There's a couple other things I am considering.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The National Locksmith

There are several photos of my lock picks in an article on making lock picks in the June issue of The National Locksmith. The author contacted me about using my photos about a month ago, I gave him permission and forgot all about it till today when I got an email from my friend whose father is a locksmith and saw my picks in the new issue. I saw the online version of the magazine. I'll try to get the printed magazine from my friend's dad when he is finished with it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Upcoming show in Seattle

My work will be in a show during the SNAG conference in Seattle this month. It's called "Art by Attrition" and it's at KOBO at Higo gallery. The theme of the show is artwork made by the subtractive process. The show will be May 26th - June 25th, 2011.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

going to california

I'll be visiting California May 18 - 25. I used to live in San Diego and I haven't been there in almost 6 1/2 years. I keep planning to move back there someday, but other things always come up that I want to do first.

If I am going to make a new piece for Cheongju I need to hurry, the deadline is June 8th, Korea time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm home

I got back to the US on Saturday (4/23).

I unpacked enough of my studio to start working on some new lockpicks today. I was kind of burnt out with my work when I left for Korea last year, and I was hoping after a year off that I would go back to the studio feeling good and ready to work again. But I really don't feel that much different. It doesn't feel like it's been a year, and I don't mean that in a good way. I mean it like, I needed a break, and after 1 year I still don't feel like it was enough of a break. I'm planning to go back to Korea for another year this summer, so maybe I will feel better after that.

I'm not really happy to be back here. I wanted to come back to the US for a while, I just hate the Chicago suburbs and wish I could spend my time someplace else. I was ready to leave this area after being here for less than a day.

Anyway, while I am here I am going to make some lockpicks and a silver vessel for Cheongju. I can't believe the price of silver, $47/oz. I'm glad I have a lot of silver I bought when it was cheaper. I bought the 12" x 12" sheet of sterling I will use for my vessel when silver was around $10/oz.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

an update

It's been a long time since I posted last. So here's whats going on:

In January I took a three week trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. Maybe I'll post some pictures of that later. I still haven't finished going through all my photos and picking out the good ones cause I am stressed and just haven't felt like it.

Travel always makes me feel like working in the studio. To bad this time I didn't have much of a studio to go home to. I didn't produce anything during my time in Korea. I am not sure if this long break is good for me or bad for me.

I was a finalist in the Saul Bell competition. I got the results for that last week: I didn't win anything.

I have been in Korea almost one year now. It went so fast. I will be going back to the US April 23rd. I plan to make a piece for this year's Cheongju craft competition while I am home. I also want to make some lock picks. I don't have another job yet, so I don't know how long I will be in the US. I'll be going back to Korea when ever my next job starts. I would like to have one month in the US, but I might be there for a longer or shorter time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2010 review

Not much happened with my work in 2010. 2010 was mostly about Korea. I thought I would be leaving in January or February, but I ended up leaving in mid-April. That gave me some time to get more work done in the studio, but I still couldn't finish everything. I was really rushing in the end and I think I just ended up working on too many different things instead of focusing on one thing at a time till it's finished. But I have always worked like that.

I got two of my brooches in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum around the beginning of January 2010. I was only in one exhibition last year, the CMAG members show, which was not a juried show, but I got honorable mention for one of my vases. I also found out I am a finalist in the 2011 Saul Bell competition and there were 2 books on anodizing published last fall that had photos of my work.

So while I had some stuff happen this year it's all just stuff that carried over from the previous year or involving work I made before 2010.

Korea has been good, but I didn't really do any work since I came here even though I have wax and wood carving tools. I have been working on some designs for a piece for the 2011 Cheongju Craft Competition, but I feel kind of stuck and don't know what to do for that design.

In the fall I had been told by my school that I could renew my contract to stay here a second year, and I was planning on doing that, but at the end of December they told me the school did not get funding for a foreign teacher next year. So now I am looking for a new job for this spring.

2010 was a pretty good year, just not really for anything involving my work.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm taking a trip

Tuesday (1/11) I'm going to Thailand, I'll also go to Laos and Cambodia. The trip will be three weeks, I'll come back to Korea on January 31. Most people I have told about it in Korea think it's too bad that I am going alone. I don't know why. I think it will be great to have three weeks of solo travel. I have wanted to do this for a long time. I will be alone and not have any obligations to anyone. I will be able to do what I want, and go where I want. I don't even have any hotel reservations, so I don't need to be any place at any certain day.